Making land productive

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AWAY from the chaos that has rocked our economy is an issue that is of importance to every progressive Zimbabwean.
We are talking about the issue of land and how it is critical to turning around the fortunes of our country.
The 2018-19 farming season comes with many challenges and opportunities alike.
It brings forth the concerns of the farmer.
It tests the resolve of the farmer.
It calls for all stakeholders to come together and map a way forward for the farmer.
The farmer has been lamenting the high costs of production.
He has been mourning that he has not been reaping the rewards of his hard work.
He has also been up in arms with greedy vultures who are always ready to pounce on his produce at ridiculously low prices.
He has been concerned about the late distribution of inputs.
This year, Government availed inputs on time even though some preferred to call this gesture a vote buying gimmick.
On the other hand, this farming season invokes serious challenges to market forces.
It creates many opportunities for the farmer to make a mark both financially and productively.
This is notwithstanding the warning by weather experts that there will be erratic rains in the said farming season.
Government has to address the issue of greedy market forces that wantonly abuse the farmer.
Of course the farmer is driven by the profit motif but the inescapable reality is that the aspect of national duty or national service is critical in this.
This is why it is critical for Government to ring-fence the interests of the farmer way before the planting season.
Farmers must be given guarantees that they will not be victims of avaricious middlemen.
These are the people who are negating the essence of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.
This programme was designed to restore the country’s position as a global agriculture nation of note.
We have heard the Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube raising concern over our huge import bill.
This has created serious problems for the economy through such issues like cash shortages and a non-performing economy.
In order for us to escape from this painful reality, we have to increase productivity on the farms.
Concern emanates from the fact that some of those we entrusted with the role of producing for the nation have not been as efficient as one would want them to be.
We have so many capable hands and minds who can unlock value from land.
There are many things that can be done to increase value from the land.
In the first instance, and as has been repeatedly said by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri, Government has created provisions for joint ventures.
Farmers can now enter into partnerships with those who have the resources and technical expertise in order to derive maximum value from their land.
In the same vein, farmers must plant crops that suit their land and regions.
We cannot go hungry or import when we have vast tracts of land that are not being utilised.
We must create multi-millionaire farmers who can, and will, steer this country’s much needed economic growth.
We must establish serious agro-industries that will create platforms for employment.
Let us start with this season and make our land productive.

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